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Facebook Advertising

Facebook Advertising for eCommerce Merchants: A Crash Course

Facebook Advertising for eCommerce Merchants: A Crash Course

by John Larkin

John runs the blog here at eCommerceLift and is a verified Shopify Expert. Interested in an initial growth consultation? Click here

3 years ago


Facebook Advertising for eCommerce Merchants: A Crash Course

This week I had the great pleasure to talk with Luna Vega, host of the great Global Influencer Podcast (you can check out the podcast itself here). Luna wanted to have a chat about the effective of Facebook advertising in general and how we come up with solutions to some of the issues that can arise in social media advertising.

Luna started off by asking about why people should use Facebook advertising in the first place and how come it’s not always successful, even when companies do decide to advertise.

The reasons for advertising on Facebook is pretty simple really. There are 1.2 billion people on Facebook and that’s a huge proportion of the world really. It’s an international audience as well as a regional audience and you can dig down by demographics and regions to help scale your business. We know more about these users than any media in the past ever did. People who watched television or listened to the radio were passive. Facebook users are active; posting, sharing and ‘liking’ things for an average of 23 minutes a day. There’s just a huge amount of data out there ready to be utilised.

If you are selling well to customers in New York, then you can use a Facebook advertising campaign to see if your product would sell in London or Toyko really  easily. But the thing to remember is that advertising is not a one-hit wonder. It’s not easy to initially succeed but once you do, advertising can become a cash cow for your business. 

The second part of the question - why Facebook ads work for some and not for others, required a far longer answer. Determining the efficacy of a Facebook ad, or any ad really, depends on many variables - all of which give you the opportunity to make a mistake. 

If we take a really simple idea of a guy selling t-shirts; he can choose who to target that advert at. He can choose to target males aged between 25-35 who live in New York for example who have an interest in technology. The mere act of identifying those characteristics as the ones you want to target as a retailer might be the first wrong step he could take. 

The next thing he could do wrong is to send out the wrong message. The customers who buy his t-shirts might not care too much about value, or the fact that these t-shirts are really inexpensive. Instead, what they might want is for their t-shirt to be a limited edition print with niche value. 

The next thing that he could get wrong is the image he uses in his ad. Maybe he’s just using a product shot of the t-shirt. But what his customers would really like is a lifestyle shot - a picture of somebody wearing the t-shirt while sitting at his computer programming, for example.

So, basically, there are so many variables that could go wrong, that getting them all lined up and ready to go is a really difficult thing to do. 

The problem is, when you have a limited budget, you can run out of money before you find out what works for you and your business. And that’s why you hear plenty stories of not succeeding, but those who target smartly and succeed can really, really succeed and that’s where a company like PropelAd comes in.

We generally work with small businesses. They need to figure out if a channel is working for them and they need to do it quickly and as cheaply as possible. So we advise that the best approach is to be as statistical and analytical as possible. The number one thing you can do is think niche. You narrow down your target market as much as you can. Start small - you can always add more people to an audience later, when you know it works. 

Software like PropelAd solely focuses on Facebook adverts that send traffic to your store. We don’t do page like campaigns or promoted posts. What we do is a kind of direct response advertising. We direct people to your store because when they are on your store - that’s your domain… you own that. If you can get them to do something - whether it’s purchase something, sign up for an email list or sharing something… You own that and can use that. Facebook likes are good for branding, but from an eCommerce point of view, you are trying to move the bottom line and getting customers onto your domain means you can use all the information you capture in a really effective way.

And that applies not just to Facebook advertising but to all advertising. A supermarket doesn’t advertise it’s fruit prices in a newspaper on a Saturday because they want to sell a load of apples or oranges. They just want to get you into their store, where you will buy other things. It’s much the same with our approach - we just want to get you to the store, because once you are there, we’ve created value.


Luna then asked me if there was any point in creating a campaign just to attract ‘likes’. It was a good question and one that has created a lot of debate within the social media advertising space.

The answer is that it depends on your goals as an advertiser. There are reasons to get people to like your page on Facebook. You are getting them to like you now so you can interact with them seriously at a later date. If you are trying to sell products and you get 100 extra people to like your Facebook page, then you have not necessarily succeeded.

Traditionally an advertiser could only show a customer one advertisement per day on their Newsfeed. Now, though, in a change that has only happened in the last few weeks, if a person has ‘liked’ a page - then the advertiser can advertise to them multiple times per day. So there is a value in gaining ‘likes’ in some ways, but for people to think that gaining likes is an immediate way to improve your bottom line, then they are in for a shock. It’s just the very beginning of the work you need to do.

Where Facebook really comes into its own though is as a tool for multi-device targeting. The thing you have to realise is that people are always logged into Facebook. From an advertiser’s point of view, you know who they are. So when they click on something on their mobile device; we can reach out and retarget them on a desktop later.

When you are trying to reach out to new customers you should try to hit them on mobile first. People say to me, “what’s the point in that, I’ve heard that people don’t buy stuff on mobile devices.” Now that may be true, but you want to reach them on their mobile first and then re-target them on their desktop later. 

It’s almost impossible to reach out to somebody, get them to discover a new product, get them to the store and buy all in one visit. I mean, it’s practically unheard of. So you have to play a slightly longer game. It’s a multi-step process. You reach them on their mobile when they first discover your product, you reconnect with them via Facebook and you collect when they purchase on their desktop. 

You can listen to the recording below:

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